My man's band mates hit on me

I toured with my husband's band to learn about his life. Wow. Somebody tell me the rules!

By Cary Tennis

Published July 30, 2012 12:00AM (EDT)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

I have been married for three years to a man that I fell in love with completely head over heels. It all happened really fast, and I admit we were (still are) really young and perhaps not entirely aware of what the vows we took mean. He is a musician and ever since before we got married, during the summers, he becomes so consumed by recording, performing and writing music with his band that he spends a lot of time away from me. There are several days that I do not hear from him, and he does not sleep next to me.

I began to resent his absence, because even though he is not emotionally absent, he neglects our finances and places a great burden on me. I work a regular 40-hour-a-week job, but often find myself working random jobs to pay our bills.

He is a very sweet man. I have no doubt that he loves me and I have tried numerous times to talk about this so we can work something out where he can do what he loves without putting me through so much stress. I have even suggested couples therapy, but all he does is make promises and nothing changes.

Last summer I decided to go with him on tour because I wanted to understand his perspective. I took out a credit card, took time off from work and toured with him and his band. What ended up happening was that I constantly felt like I was in the way and I even got left behind in hotels because I did not fit in the car where the band was traveling. One of his band members, who does not work as hard as my husband, and because of that reason always had time to talk to me and spend time with me, fell in love with me, and in a moment of drunken loneliness I made the stupid decision of having sex with him. We both regretted it and it never happened again and as result I developed an extreme hatred for him. Soon after this incident, another of the band members passed away in an unfortunate accident. Because of this, the band became closer and have spent pretty much all year working on projects to honor the band mate who passed away. I am alone all the time. I am in debt. I pay for everything and I no longer feel like my husband knows that I exist. I know for sure there are no other women because I always know where he is and with who.

Lately, another band member has been flirting a lot with me. He kissed me at a party and I told my husband right away because I did not want to have more stuff to hide from him, but my husband did not react as I thought he would. He said I should be flattered and that he trusted me because he knows I know what the right thing to do is. This really bothered me. I avoided this other band member's efforts, but two days ago I engaged with him in inappropriate texting. I feel incredibly remorseful. I  am confused and I don't know what to do. I don't understand how people who love each other can do this to each other.

I know his friends love him, yet they all want to get into my pants. And I love my husband but find myself going for the easy attention when I feel I fail to make my husband pay attention to me.

I don't know if I should just tell him the truth, expose his friends and myself and try to start again with honesty, or if that is a stupid idea because by doing that I would destroy his friendships and us.

Lonely Wife

Dear Lonely Wife,

I do not think you should tell your husband that you slept with his band mate -- not yet anyway. My advice is to first ask why you and his band mates are acting as you are.

A band of young men, a band on the road, is like a tribal brotherhood or family. The bonds between the men are strong. They may be stronger than the bonds between a man and his wife. Triangles occur in a family system. When you are with your husband alone, yours is the primary bond. But when he is with his band mates, you become the outside third.

You may feel that the band is a threat to you. You are also seen as a threat to the band. They have a feeling of ownership over your husband. When you enter the scene, you place competing demands of ownership over the husband.

So there will be battles. When you become the outside third, you will naturally seek to reestablish your primacy in his affections. You may be tempted to flirt with his band mates so he will compete for your affection again. They, in turn, will battle to keep your husband in their sphere. One way they might do this is by breaking up the marriage. If your marriage broke up, then he would be available to the band full-time. So each of you has a motive to cheat: you to regain your husband by making him jealous, and they to break up your marriage because it threatens the band.

Add to this the fact that the band closed ranks around the one member's death.

So it's a volatile mix. But it has meaning. It isn't crazy. We do things for reasons.

In families, deeply held beliefs about sex roles come to the fore. So naturally you are dealing with men's attitudes toward women -- toward all the women they have ever known -- mothers, wives, sisters, women in positions of authority, women peers, women in business, prostitutes, dancers, actresses, porn stars. Whatever attitudes these men have toward women will be projected onto you.

In that sense, it is also, of course, a deeply sexist situation.

It is also a logic problem. The four different possible outcomes for your husband are:

Keep wife, keep band.
Keep wife, lose band.
Lose wife, keep band.
Lose wife, lose band.

He would probably prefer the first option. But if he felt cornered, if you told him you slept with his band mate, he might do something rash. He might sleep with other women in revenge. He might try to kick out the band member you slept with. He might abandon you.

This may not be a workable marriage long-term. But if it is to come apart, you want to be in a strong position. It would be good to do some planning. So, for instance, do not get pregnant. Do not take on debts for your husband. Look around for a good community of friends and family that you could live with or near if you should split up.

Talk to other women whose husbands are musicians. Look at their lives and how they have handled the complex and often brutal sociological, economic and psychological conditions.

Musicians are complex individuals. The conditions they work under are harsh. One of their few rewards is the kindness and attention from fans. So you will always be competing with others for the love and attention of your husband. If you can manage this, and if you can stabilize your finances, perhaps you can make a good life with him.

But you will have to make a choice at some point whether to continue supporting him and enduring the privations the wife of a musician often endures, or whether to strike off on your own in search of a mate whose life goals are more compatible with marriage and family.

Cary Tennis

MORE FROM Cary TennisFOLLOW carytennisLIKE Cary Tennis

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Marriage Relationships Since You Asked